Is the Brazilian Blowout™ Toxic?

Brazilian Blowout results in smooth, sleek hair

I received an excellent question from a reader regarding the Brazilian Blowout™. She loved the results but, like I experienced, she had eye irritation in addition to nose and throat burning. Like I shared with you, I teared uncontrollably during the blowout of the treatment.

Does this mean the Brazilian Blowout™ is toxic?

This is the email I received:
“I read about the Brazilian Blowout™ on your blog and had to get it done. I was pretty freaked out during the process when my eyes, nose and throat started burning. I saw on your blog that your eyes also burned from it. I guess it made me kind of nervous because if the product really is formaldehyde free and “scary-chemical” free, why would it make our eyes and other mucous membranes burn?


Also, on mystyle.com I read this quote from the maker of Brazilian Blowout™:
“When it started in Brazil, they were using a very high percentage of formaldehyde,” explains Ribeiro, a native of San Paulo. “I actually work with a milder version but I do realize we’re using a toxic chemical so you have to be careful.” –so does that mean there is in fact formaldehyde in BB, just a lower level?

Also, on brazilianblowout.com it makes no mention of their product being formaldehyde-free. Is this all just a big rumor?

Any thoughts you have on the topic would be greatly appreciated, as I love what it did to my hair and want to continue doing it, as long as it’s truly safe.”

I turned to my favorite Brazilian Blowout™ Specialist, Jordana for some answers.

“It is true that the original formulas used in Brazil (and which may still be used there) contained high levels of formaldehyde, and that Mauricio Ribeiro reformulated the treatment to contain less when he premiered the solution in the US. However, it is important to note the date of this article quoting him (January 2008), because Brazilian Blowout changed their formula later that year (I waited for the formaldehyde-free formula to come out before offering the service, and I received it in September 2008). While I am a highly-trained and experienced technician in applying the treatment, I am neither a doctor nor a chemist, but what follows is my understanding and experience with BB.

I recently had the opportunity to speak with a Brazilian Blowout exec, and this was one of our topics of discussion as I have received many questions regarding the chemical make-up of the treatment. I have learned that the current formula (as of last fall, including the newest one released just this month and the one I used on Tammy) does contain a chemical cousin, also in the ‘hyde’ family, and therefore can cause irritation in some individuals (though it occurs in fewer cases, which I believe is why they chose it). He said that if a client has had an allergic reaction to formaldehyde in the past, they are not a good candidate for this treatment and I have since added this question to my consultation/analysis process.

I perform the service several times a week as well as having it done on my own hair without any trouble, and this is the case with most clients. Some do feel eye irritation (as Tammy did), and I have heard of (but not witnessed in my 100+ treatments) other reactions as the reader described. It sounds as though she has a true allergy, which may have been apparent during biology class and would likely prevent her from using many widely marketed body lotions, anti-perspirants and nail polishes. Now that I know about this, I ask before proceeding with the service. I am also investing in a special air filter to minimize (hopefully eliminate) superficial irritation for those who have had minor discomfort but wish to continue with BB.

Of course, I don’t like to turn anyone away if I can help it! I want to be able to help as many people as possible fight their frizz. For clients with allergy, sensitivity, or those who are specifically concerned about ‘hyde’ exposure, I have researched, tested and have been using a different keratin treatment called Global Keratin. I was planning to suggest Tammy might try this for her next treatment to avoid irritation, and I would definitely recommend this for the reader.

Global Keratin offers treatments with or without formaldehyde, and I use only the latter, which has no ‘hyde’ of any kind. The results are shiny, smooth and semi-permanent just as with Brazilian Blowout, and my clients have been very happy with it. By using this option, one does lose a major convenience associated only with BB; it requires that the keratin settle into the hair for 48-72 hours following the treatment. That means no washing, wetting, curling, clipping or ponytailing during that time. But in order to avoid irritation, that may be worth the wait! An excerpt from my website regarding Global Keratin:

“Global Keratin is the most flexible of Jordana’s keratin treatments; it can be used for simple frizz elimination while maintaining curl, or to achieve varying levels of straightness. Jordana only uses their formaldehyde-free formula, which is also free of ANY other “hyde family” ingredients (most other treatments do contain some form of “hyde” and should not be used on individuals with formaldehyde allergies). GK contains ultra-fine keratin molecules in a moisturizing base which can be adjusted to your hair type to provide a wide range of results.”

My thoughts:

I hope this information has been helpful for anyone decide whether or not the Brazilian Blowout™ is right for you!  For me, I would do it again even with the eye irritation as it’s been such an amazing difference.  I’ll consider the Global Keratin but I’m a little nervous about switching when I’ve already had such good results from the BB.  I am willing to pay a price for maintaining the changes I’ve experienced in my hair.  However, I did not have a burning throat or nose, have a difficult time breathing or experience continued eye irritation after leaving the salon.  If I had, I would seriously consider not having the BB done again.

Please write in if you have any further questions for myself or Jordana!

About Jordana:
Jordana Lorraine graduated from Vidal Sassoon in 1995 and specialized in color and extensions before focusing on Brazilian Blowout™. In addition to her Brazilian Blowout™ Certification, Jordana has spent a highly unusual 4 hours with the creator of the process, during which they discussed details of the treatment and worked on a client together.

Find Jordana at Lorraine Colour Bar in Santa Monica, CA.
www.jordanalorraine.com
contact: 310-922-2645
Twitter: BrazilBlowout

UPDATE, APRIL 2010: Brazilian Blowout™ is now free of formaldehyde and all hyde family ingredients, as shown on their website www.brazilianblowout.com. Read our report: BIG NEWS: Keratin Hair Treatment, Brazilian Blowout™ in Now HYDE-FREE!

UPDATE, September 25, 2010: New OSHA Testing Reports Formaldehyde Found in Brazilian Blowout™. The news is so disappointing for those of us that loved the results of the treatment.

UPDATE, October 6, 2010: Brazilian Blowout Claims OSHA’s Testing Methods Proven Faulty

UPDATE, April 2011: Brazilian Blowout gives a statement to CBS News:

Professional smoothing treatment brand Brazilian Blowout wrote CBS News the following response on their product:

Thank you for your time today and for your understanding that Brazilian Blowout is a brand and not a category.

We are currently attempting to contact Federal OSHA as we have never been contacted by them regarding their research of Brazilian Blowout. To date all state OSHA testing that has been made available to us clearly demonstrates that our product is safely below all OSHA defined air monitoring levels.

In the meantime, Brazilian Blowout has launched “Brazilian Blowout ZERO” for anyone concerned about the hair smoothing category. ZERO utilizes a new plant derived system that delivers exceptional results without any controversial ingredients.

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Comments

  1. Felicia says:

    Karin I know exactly who you are talking about and I totally agree. Like she is the scientist that produced this BB. We can not always believe what companies tell us, we have to investigate things for ourselves. If our eyes and noses are burning and hair falling out in clumps from something sooo natural it seems a bit odd.

  2. renee d says:

    California to Rule on Brazilian Blowout

    by ANDREA NAGEL

    Posted WEDNESDAY APRIL 13, 2011

    From WWD ISSUE 04/13/2011

    The superior court of the state of California has filed a proposed preliminary injunction against GIB LLC, the makers of Brazilian Blowout, citing that according to the state’s testing, the formula for the hair straightening treatment of the same name does in fact contain formaldehyde and the company should let its salon partners know.

    Judge Steven A. Brick will preside over a May 2 hearing, scheduled for 3 p.m., to decide whether the preliminary injunction proposed by the state will be signed, rejected or modified.

    The preliminary injunction states that Brazilian Blowout’s “Smoothing Solution contains approximately 8 percent formaldehyde by weight, which is in the range typical of embalming fluid used by funeral homes.”

    The state’s testing by independent laboratories was necessary, the preliminary injunction stated, “because of [Brazilian Blowout’s] fervent [and ongoing] denials that its products contain high levels of formaldehyde.”

    Subsequently, the state tested two samples, one procured from a certified hairstylist and another from the offices of California OSHA, which had seized the product directly from GIB’s repackaging facility in Southern California. Both were tested at two independent labs, said the preliminary injunction, including one with specialized expertise in formaldehyde chemistry. The testing confirmed between 7.87 percent and 8.4 percent formaldehyde by weight in the Smoothing Solution, exceeding limits by more than eight times for salon workers.

    The complaint goes on to describe violations of at least five separate state laws resulting from the formaldehyde finding, including failure to tell salon workers that the use of the product exposes them to a chemical known to cause cancer. The injunction orders that GIB refrain from selling its Smoothing Solution without providing a material safety data sheet, or MSDS, to each purchaser with a warning that use of the product will expose them to formaldehyde, a chemical known to cause cancer.

    The injunction also asks that GIB post a link to this MSDS in a conspicuous place on a portion of its Web site; warn any customers who purchased the product from May 1 to the present that their stock likely will lead to future exposures and send them a copy of the MSDS; change packaging and promotions using the statements “Formaldehyde Free,” and submit product ingredient information to the state Department of Public Health.

    GIB did not return calls seeking comment.

    Brazilian Blowout is allowed to file a response brief, and the state gets to file one short final brief, all before May 2.

    Meanwhile, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), under the U.S. Department of Labor, issued a hazard alert Monday, warning stylists and consumers that the popular hair straightening treatment, among others, could pose serious health risks. “Workers have the right to know the risks associated with the chemicals with which they work, and how to protect themselves,” stated OSHA assistant secretary Dr. David Michaels in a statement.

    .

  3. Tammy Gibson says:

    @renee d: Hi Renee, Thanks, we saw this article and are having a discussion about this on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/AMomInRedHighHeels

  4. Tina says:

    Complete OSHA hazard alert, in case it hasn’t already been mentioned, below:

    http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/formaldehyde/hazard_alert.html

    For those with patience, see also report by the National Academy of Sciences confirming EPA’s determination that formaldehyde causes cancer in humans (as opposed to, say, only lab rats):

    http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=13142

    The booklet can be downloaded for free.

  5. Tina says:

    And for those following this case from a legal standing, here are the injunction and memo issued by California’s Attorney General earlier this month:

    http://www.scribd.com/doc/52881449/BB-Proposed-injunction-1
    http://www.scribd.com/doc/52881473/BB-Memorandum-1

    More details on California Watch:

    http://californiawatch.org/dailyreport/brazilian-blowout-hair-straightener-draws-fire-authorities-9797

  6. For those interested in the company’s comment:

    UPDATE, April 2011: Brazilian Blowout gives a statement to CBS News:

    Professional smoothing treatment brand Brazilian Blowout wrote CBS News the following response on their product:

    Thank you for your time today and for your understanding that Brazilian Blowout is a brand and not a category.

    We are currently attempting to contact Federal OSHA as we have never been contacted by them regarding their research of Brazilian Blowout. To date all state OSHA testing that has been made available to us clearly demonstrates that our product is safely below all OSHA defined air monitoring levels.

    In the meantime, Brazilian Blowout has launched “Brazilian Blowout ZERO” for anyone concerned about the hair smoothing category. ZERO utilizes a new plant derived system that delivers exceptional results without any controversial ingredients.

  7. Also of possible interest, Tweeted to me by American Chemistry:

    “…people produce formaldehyde in their bodies and exhale it in the range of less than 0.8 to 8 parts per billion. EPA’s proposed cancer risk value of 0.008 parts per billion would suggest that human breath poses an unacceptable risk of cancer; yet, experience and science tell us that couldn’t possibly be the case.”

    Full article:
    http://www.americanchemistry.com/s_acc/sec_news_article.asp?CID=206&DID=11831

  8. ATTN: Salon Owners and Stylists!! Join Doug Schoon in a FREE webinar from the Professional Beauty Association on OSHA regulations and keratin treatment safety: https://www2.gotomeeting.com/register/840781467

  9. Sharon Isaacs says:

    I am looking to purchase the Brazilian Cacau treatment, any place in Cape Town where i can get the treatment Tel 021 9051600, cell 0834082626

  10. Great question, Sharon. Try contacting Cadiveu distribution for a referral in your region: http://www.cadiveu.com/uk/distribuidores.html

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